If you saw April’s post last week about a trade show we worked on, this post will go into detail on just one part of our work.

We did a series of videos highlighting many of the Putzmeister products, and these videos were in the booth on video touchscreens. We ended up working with another company who owned the touchscreens, and they provided a few generic samples files and a display for us to test everything with.

All files

Here’s a breakdown of the files involved for one touchscreen. There’s an XML file which controls how the screen functions, as well as a menu video which loops until someone touches one of the on-screen buttons, and then two other video files that play when selected. These all get copied to the root of a CF card and inserted into the video display.

Menu screen

Here’s what our menu video normally looks like when looping. To define the areas where the buttons are, you need to determine the x,y coordinates, and the resolution of the touch part of the display is (oddly) 4096 x 4096 pixels. The videos themselves are much smaller, but the 4096 represents the touch grid.

Menu screen stretched

So the first thing we do is take a screen shot of the video, and then blow it up (un-proportionally) to 4096 x 4096 pixels.

Menu screen flipped

Oh, we also need to flip the screen over because the coordinate system is reversed and 0,0 is in the bottom-right corner instead of the upper-left corner like most of us are used to.

Menu screen with grid

Now that we have the screen grab of our video the correct size, and in the correct orientation, we just draw some guide lines around the buttons, and then get the coordinate points for each button.

Once we have the “start x,y” and “end x,y” coordinates we make note of them for the next step…

XML file

If you’re familiar with XML or even HTML image maps, this file should make sense. It’s fairly simple, and you can see where each of the videos is specified, and the coordinates that we determined.

So with our TPANEL.XML file done, and our videos ready to go, we just load it all onto the CF card, pop it in the machine, and it’s ready to go!

We produced about 20 videos for the booth, in just a few weeks, including a bit of shooting as well. Doing work for trade shows is always fun because you get to see things out in the real-world, often with the client right there with you. :)

January 30, 2012 · Posted by in misc, video  

Final Cut Pro X

I’ve been trying (well, not trying that hard) to avoid looking into Apple’s Final Cut Pro X for a few reasons. One being, I’m the guy who evaluates software, and recommends upgrades, but also because I do some of the editing here (as well as a home) so a major piece of software we rely on being “upgraded” and being touted as “revolutionary” is a bit concerning.

Final Cut Pro X

Apple could have used the line “Everything just changed, and you’ll hate it.” but that probably wouldn’t have been good marketing. But hey, you can fire up the Mac App Store and see that Final Cut Pro X is just $299.99. That seems to be the only good news about this new version. It’s cheaper. No, I take that back… For the things that are missing, that price may be correct. By the way, if you want Motion or Compressor, those are both available in the Mac App Store as well, for an additional $49.99. Each.

Here’s a nice FAQ about FCPX. Here’s a game for you, count how many questions have the answer “no.” Here’s a few:

Q: Can I open old Final Cut Pro projects in FCPX?
A: No.

Q: Can I import or export XML?
A: No.

Q: Can I export EDLs or marker lists?
A: No.

Q: Does Final Cut Pro X have native R3D or XDCAM support?
A: No.

Q: How do I reconnect media?
A: You can’t.

OK, that last one technically wasn’t “no” but it was close enough.

This isn’t the first time Apple has done this… They did it with iMovie. The latest version was a complete re-write, and similar to the older version in name only. People hated it so much when it came out, Apple made the old version available for download and put it in a folder named ‘iMovie (previous version).’

They also did quite a makeover of Logic, though that was mainly an interface makeover, and I think it was all part of finishing the acquisition of Logic from Emagic and fitting it into the Apple universe.

Remember when I said you could check out FCPX in the Mac App Store? That’s where you can also read reviews which such titles as “Extremely buggy, overly simplistic”, “Not for an Editing House”, “HUGE problems and disappointing”, “NOT FOR PROS! This is NOT a Pro application”, and of course, “P.O.S.”

I know it’s still early days, and I’ve seen a number of posts saying that the missing features will get added back in over time and future releases, but for pro users, that means either waiting, or getting it right now, and complaining about it. Even though we live in a right now world, I’m going to recommend that waiting idea…

June 23, 2011 · Posted by in video  

I think this PSA video is a great example of how one company was able to turn something negative into a positive, plus it’s so darn funny!

Alamo Drafthouse, a local chain of movie theaters in Austin, Texas, doesn’t tolerate impolite moviegoers who talk and text on their cellphone. One recent guest, after being warned twice about texting during the movie, was escorted from her seat and forced to leave without a refund. She called Alamo Drafthouse, giving them a profanity laced piece about how she felt about the matter. The company turned her cuss-rant, voice-mail message into a hilarious in-house movie preview warning to other to stay off their phones.

The company uses her voice-mail, transcribes her words so they delicately appear on the screen as she angrily spews them. The end result is amusing and very effective video. My favorite ramble, “So excuse me for using my phone, in USA magnited States of America. Where yer-you are free to text in a the-a-ter!” Cheers to Alamo Drafthouse!

June 8, 2011 · Posted by in misc  

Camera Mount

What do you say when people ask what you do at work?

I’ve been known to give answers like “Whatever it takes” or “I fix everything” because we do so many different things at Z2, it’s a hard question to answer.

For instance, last night I built a camera mount to attach to the ceiling. (It’s for a client.) This is probably the 4th camera mount I’ve built at Z2 in the last 9 months, and it doesn’t seem weird, it just seems like one more thing we do.

Olivia SlaterPhoto by Joe Haas

Here’s Olivia getting a lesson in “multiple hat theory” on a video shoot. I managed to pile about 4 titles on her, and while we were filming, gave her one more… “slater.”

I spent a few minutes telling her how to slate, and told her that she was lucky, because she’d be in every scene… until the editing started. :)

She did great, and I hope she had fun doing it.

Some people have a hard time getting thrown into tasks that are outside their comfort zone, but I think we’re pretty lucky to not have any of those people working here.

So if you’re ever in the Z2 office for an interview, and I ask if you can lift 50 pounds above your head, chance are it’s a real question, and not some weird trick to throw you off.

So, what do you do?

March 24, 2011 · Posted by in misc  

The other day, a few other Z2ers and I were in a client meeting, prepared to give a presentation about social media. I’m always so thrilled when a client shows interest in expanding their marketing capabilities to the social sphere, so I was antsy to start discussing strategies and plans.

Needless to say, I was a little taken aback when the first question asked was, “So what is Twitter, really?” As someone who is ultra-involved in social media, it was a shock to hear someone ask this question about a social platform that’s been around for five years as of yesterday.

The client listened intently, however, as we gave a brief overview of the simple yet sophisticated tool, and the meeting participants remained eager to learn about how they could utilize this in an effective way for their business.

It seems, however, that these individuals are not alone in their lack of Twitter knowledge. That’s why, on the eve of their fifth anniversary, Twitter employees have gathered together to create a website and video explaining how to “Discover your World,” as they describe it.

And if nothing else, watch this video to see Snoop Dogg talk about his homegirl Martha Stewart.

March 22, 2011 · Posted by in misc, social media  

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